The UN Human Rights Council said Thursday that it had received a request from Kyiv for an urgent debate on human rights in Ukraine stemming from Russia’s military intervention in the country.
The president of the council received a letter from Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN office in Geneva requesting that the council convene a debate “as urgently as possible.”
“The Council Bureau will convene a meeting tomorrow to discuss this request, which will be put to the council for its consideration,” it said in a statement.
The council’s 47 member states are scheduled to hold a session lasting several weeks starting Monday until April 1, the statement said.
The council needs a simple majority to hold an urgent debate.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had earlier called on Ukraine and eastern pro-Russian rebels to spare critical civilian infrastructure in the region, warning that a recent intensification of fighting once again risks the halting of essential services.
“In the last two days, at least two major pumping stations both in the Donetsk region and serving more than one million people on either side of the line of contact with potable water, including hospitals and other crucial services, were rendered inoperable by the hostilities,” the ICRC said in a statement.
Donetsk is one of the two self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine along with Luhansk. Together, they make up the region known as Donbas.
“We are very concerned about the developments in eastern Ukraine over the past few days,” Florence Gillette, the head of the ICRC’s delegation in Ukraine, was quoted in the statement as saying.
As clashes erupted between Russian-backed separatist forces and the Ukrainian army, the 2014 and 2015 Minsk Agreements were signed in Moscow after the intervention of Western powers.
The conflict, however, simmered for years with persistent cease-fire violations.
As of February 2022, some 14,000 people have been killed in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Tensions started escalating late last year when Ukraine, the US and its allies accused Russia of amassing tens of thousands of troops on the border with Ukraine.
They claimed that Russia was preparing to invade its western neighbor, allegations that were consistently rejected by Moscow.
Defying threats of sanctions by the West, Moscow officially recognized Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states earlier this week, followed by the start of a military operation in Ukraine on Thursday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the operation aims to protect people “subjected to genocide” by Kyiv and to “demilitarize and de-Nazify” Ukraine, while calling on the Ukrainian army to lay down its arms.
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